Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sad news

The National Center for Lesbian Rights has reported that Del Martin (87) has passed away. A less detailed AP version of the story can be found here. The San Francisco Chronicle's article is also worth a look.

Quoting from her

It is difficult to separate Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon and write about only one of them. Their lives and their work have intertwined and their enduring dedication to social justice has been recognized many times. In 1979, local health care providers established a clinic to give lesbians in the San Francisco Bay area access to nonjudgmental, affordable health care and named it Lyon-Martin Health Services in their honor. In 1990, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California awarded the couple with its highest honor, the Earl Warren Civil Liberties Award. In 1995, Senator Dianne Feinstein named Martin, and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi named Lyon, as delegates to the White House Conference on Aging, where they made headlines by using their moment at the podium to remind the 125,000 attendees that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people grow old, too, and must be included explicitly in aging policies. The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality gave Martin and Lyon their Outstanding Public Service Award in 1996. They are among the most beloved figures in the LGBT community and have served as Grand Marshals at Pride marches across the nation and been honored by every major LGBT organization in the country.

Del Martin identified her own legacy in 1984 when she said that her most important contribution was "being able to help make changes in the way lesbians and gay men view themselves and how the larger society views lesbians and gay men." She had the courage to be true to herself when the world offered only condemnation for lesbians. Martin showed all of us how to have what she called “self-acceptance and a good sense of my own self-worth.” Del Martin never backed down from her insistence on full equality for all people and, even at 87 years old, she kept moving all of us closer to her ideal.

Gifts in lieu of flowers can be made to honor Del’s life and commitment and to defeat the California marriage ban through NCLR’s No On 8 PAC at

A public memorial and tribute celebrating the life of Del Martin will be planned in the next several weeks.

Mayor Newsom has issued the following statement:


Today, San Francisco lost a local and national leader, Del Martin.

For over half a century, Del Martin, along with her loving spouse, Phyllis Lyon, served as an activist for women's rights and the LGBT community. The marriage of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon on June 16, 2008, marked an historic milestone on our country's road to true freedom and equality. Del laid the groundwork for all those who want a life of dignity, and we are forever in her debt. The greatest way we can honor the life work of Del Martin, is to continue to fight and never give up, until we have achieved equality for all.

Our deepest sympathies go out to Del's family, her spouse, Phyllis, her daughter, Kendra, and all those who mourn the loss of this great and pioneering woman.

As a mark of respect for Del Martin, I have ordered the flags at City Hall and the LGBT Pride Flag on Market and Castro Streets to be flown at half-staff from now until sunset, on Thursday, August 28, 2008.

No comments: